Unlocking potential in L&D: pressing pause on the tech

Towards Maturity has launched its 2016-17 benchmark report, Unlocking Potential. As titles go, not particularly novel or challenging - after all isn’t learning & development all about unlocking potential?

However, this report isn’t really about learners. The focus of their observations is much more on the L&D community itself. When it comes to technology and learning we’re not really making much headway - it seems that L&D is running hard to just stand still when it comes to the categories Towards Maturity set to measure L&D outcomes.

The research highlights the stark difference between the aspirations of L&D to drive positive performance outcomes in efficiency, process, performance, agility and culture, and their ability to report success. 

So it seems that although no one can criticise L&D’s ambitions, their ability to deliver on them is somewhat different. According to the research, evidence of positive outcomes in the five key areas versus the stated aspirations of L&D leaders falls short by some 64% overall. This is where we most need to unlock potential.

Is it about the tools?

Although against a backdrop of decreasing L&D budget spend on technology, Towards Maturity reports the number of different technologies being used for L&D is increasing. In fact, there are 50% more technologies being used in 2016 than there were in 2011.

So it appears there’s no resistance to using new technologies. If, as we all agree, technology is at the heart of modern workplace learning, why isn’t it having a greater impact on performance? Towards Maturity note ‘despite the investment in a growing range of technology tools, organisations are reporting fewer achievements against the same aspirations now than five years ago.’ (Unlocking Potential p23)

So could the answer and the elephant in the room be, as we alluded to ourselves in our own Learning Insights 2015-16 report, technology itself?

Time to press pause?

Change and development in technology is relentless, matched only by the speed at which it occurs.  The data shared would suggest that a minority are keeping pace but maybe the rest are still behind the curve.

Those that effectively adopt new approaches – Towards Maturity’s ‘top deck’ organisations – appear not only to have a strategy for how technology enables and empowers learning but a tactical plan about how they use it.  Without a strategy and plan the report appears to show that it doesn’t matter how many shiny new tools you buy – if you’re not sure how to get the best from them they may as well just stay in the tool box.

Maybe now more than ever, it’s time to press the pause button.  Look at what your organisation needs, understand how your people want to learn, what they need to learn and how best to deliver that to them.  Unlock the potential of your L&D strategy to deliver the impact Towards Maturity believes we are all capable of achieving, rather than looking for the next technological super-tool.

 
 
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